To Apply Or Not To Apply

January 29, 2015

I read Top Law Schools, and I am very familiar with the belief that law schools encourage unqualified students to apply in order to increase their applicants and rise in the rankings. I also know the perception that Yale is impossible to get into, and that almost kept me from applying. No one wants to pad a school’s applications byline for rankings only to receive a thin envelope, with a three-line rejection letter – Dear Applicant, we regret to inform you… – a few months later. However, I can tell you from personal experience to disregard those valid concerns. I invite you to still apply to YLS because (1) it represents an incredible opportunity (which comes with its own set of responsibilities) and (2) Yale Law School needs more students like you.

I did not really know what I was doing when I applied to law school. There are no lawyers in my family, and very few people have gone onto graduate school, let alone at an institution like Yale. I attended a land grant state school for undergrad, and the sheer breadth of post-graduate options led many to question why anyone would ever want to go to another school. So I approached applications blindly, armed only with TLS forums and a few library books. None of my friends were applying to law school, nor did I know anyone at any top law school who could provide guidance. But the biggest issue with my application was my LSAT score. With Yale’s median score of 173, my measly 161 seemed to bar me from any of the reputable schools.

Two catalysts pushed me to apply to Yale: First, my parents, who could not tell the difference between a great score and a bad score, encouraged me to still apply to law school. With a few fee waivers, the costs – real and opportunity – were small, they said. Second, my thesis advisor, a woman with the fortitude of a rock, felt that given my academic success in undergrad, there was no reason why I wouldn’t get into Yale.

I hope that there will be someone close to you who will encourage you to apply, but at its very least, may this blog post serve that purpose in his or her absence.

I wrote my 250 on Christmas Day, and sent my application in shortly after New Year’s. No one was more shocked to receive the phone call from Craig than me. My parents and professor had the faith and the guts to believe that my application would warrant greater review than I was willing to believe. While I would have been happy to continue at my undergraduate institution for law school, as you probably already know, there is something special about this institution.

I would be lying to you if I said that coming to Yale has been a cozy and easy experience. YLS has been a transformative experience, and transformation can be painful. However, I would not want to attend any other law school, nor would I want to spend my time with any other group of students. You’ll hear about it on orientation day; the Dean will tell you about the impressive scholarships and jobs your classmates had before law school – Rhodes Scholars, investment bankers, professors – and at first glance, it will seem that the school has everyone and everything. But what it is always looking for is more whose experiences stretch beyond traditional notions of success. Please know that your application will be valued as much as anyone else’s. I hope you will apply. You have very little to lose, and a lot to gain.